West College Scotland (WCS) has become the first Scottish college to achieve the Carers Federation Quality Standard in Carer Support (QSCS) accreditation.
WCS is committed to ensuring young adult carers in the west of Scotland have the same opportunities and access to high quality Further Education as those without care responsibilities. Young adult carers make a huge contribution to their families and wider society, but in doing so can miss out on other life chances. The changes West College Scotland has introduced are aimed at ensuring local young adult carers have the chance to achieve their full potential.
Working with the Lottery-funded Driving Change Project, which aims to improve the support available to young adult carers in Further Education across the UK, West College Scotland has actively removed some of the barriers that can prevent young carers from accessing continued education, developed new policies and procedures, improved access to bespoke support and raised awareness – including demonstrating good practice in supporting carers in the wider community.
Iain Forster-Smith, Assistant Principal Student Life and Skills at West College Scotland said:
“We are delighted to have achieved the Carers Federation Quality Standard in Carer Support accreditation. Student Carers must cope with the extra pressure of caring for a loved one and this award acknowledges that we recognise their contribution and have robust Student Carer support services in place and a fantastic team supporting our students.”
He added, “WCS works closely with local services such as Carers Trust Scotland, Inverclyde and Renfrewshire Carers Centre, and Y-Sort It in West Dunbartonshire which provide wraparound support for Student Carers covering finance, networking and physiological needs. This really is a fantastic recognition of the hard work, commitment and innovation which has been going on across the College.’
The Quality Standard in Carer Support (QSCS) assessment report on WCS observed “West College Scotland has implemented effective systems and processes to support early identification of student carers and ensured cross-college uniformity in provision. The Student Services team show a clear commitment to developing support for YACs alongside other vulnerable student groups. There is clear evidence of wide cross-college commitment and understanding of processes and responsibilities, and staff recognise the benefits of new developments for students.”
Naomi Sykes, QSCS Development Worker, Carers Federation Limited said:
“The Carers Federation Quality Standard in Carer Support (QSCS) accreditation demonstrates West College Scotland’s commitment to improving access to education for young and young adult carers.”
The Quality Standard criteria helps schools, colleges and universities develop effective processes to identify student carers and to improve their wellbeing, learning experiences and educational outcomes. Importantly, the process helps participating organisations to provide consistent provision of support and enables them to monitor the collective and individual outcomes for their students with caring roles.
Naomi added, “West College Scotland has developed comprehensive systems to ensure student carers are recognised and supported to achieve their aspirations and goals, raising awareness of young and young adult carers across the college and increasing understanding of the additional challenges they face in education.”
Stephen Evans, Chief Executive, Learning and Work Institute said:
“Many congratulations to West College Scotland for becoming the first college in Scotland to achieve the Driving Change quality standard in carers support. Young adult carers make a huge contribution to their families and society, yet they too often miss out on vital opportunities and support. The changes that the college has put in place will give local young adult carers the chance to pursue their talents and achieve their potential. We look forward to working with many other colleges in Scotland to build on the achievements of West College Scotland so that young adult carers across the country get the opportunities they deserve.”
West College Scotland students can receive confidential support by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. The Student Carers team assess each carer’s personal situation and identify what support mechanisms are available through the College and includes bespoke induction programmes, support services and financial support.
As a nationally recognised accreditation, it is hoped that both prospective and current students will feel more comfortable disclosing that they are carers and are more aware of what support mechanisms are possible to make sure that the College recognises their unique circumstances. West College Scotland welcomes students from a wide range of experiences and backgrounds and will offer appropriate, discrete support.